2016 Coterie Retreat Spotlight Interview with Photographer Keith Cephus

Celebrity and destination wedding photographer Keith Cephus has been in the industry for twenty years, earning a reputation of unmatched quality and professionalism that keeps him in great demand. From superstar athletes, celebrity icons and top musicians, to family portraits, traditional weddings, and even former US President Barack Obama - this highly sought after elite photographer has an impressive portfolio of subject matter and a masterful knowledge of his medium. A MunaLuchi Coterie member and featured speaker at the 2016 Coterie Retreat (an annual 3 day conference for wedding and event professionals that service the multicultural market), we are pleased to present this Spotlight interview began at the New Orleans Retreat this past December.

Learn all about elite photographer Keith Cephus in this insightful and inspiring Spotlight Interview, and follow this link to find out more about Keith's upcoming photography workshop on April 29th in Virginia Beach.

                                                                                     "Attitude determines altitude."
                                                                                                             ~ Keith Cephus


How did you enjoy the 2016 Coterie Retreat? I truly enjoyed my Coterie Retreat experience. Whenever you have any opportunity to establish new relationships and strengthen past ones in this amazing wedding industry, it's a thing of beauty. The speakers, food, parties and networking were amazing.

During Desiree Rogers' (Chief Executive Officer of Johnson Publishing Company) keynote speaker Q&A you spoke to her as being an inspiration, and discussed your own difficult journey as a new photographer of African American decent trying to find a place in this industry - could you speak to that experience again; how you finally got a foot in the door, your first publications, and the moment you realized you'd gone from being an unknown photographer towards being the industry leader you are today? When I first started photography in the early 90’s, we as black photographers didn’t have a platform to showcase our skill set and photography. The only option was Jet Magazine, “Beauty of the Week.” So I used this platform to my advantage to get published. Today with the blessings of coterie and Munaluchi Magazine, young black photographers have a platform to build their brand and make a name for themselves that didn’t exist 10-15 years ago.

In New Orleans, we briefly spoke about how you value "genuine people," what other character traits do you think are important to posses - especially for those trying to make it in this industry? I owe a lot of my success to never giving up, working extremely hard and building lifelong relationships with likeminded people. But more important; be likable, keep a positive attitude and continue to help others achieve their goals and dreams. Attitude determines altitude.

Would you speak about one of your favorite moments as a photographer? When I’m able to speak at schools and inspire the youth. I get so much satisfaction speaking to the kids about my passion of photography. My ultimate goal is to cultivate the next generation of photographers so they too can enjoy success while having fun!

After being a part of this industry for twenty years, what keeps you motivated, and how do you remain inspired? The thing that keeps me motivated is striving to get better. I am my worst critic and I’m always hard on myself when I fall short of my own expectations. The thing that keeps me inspired is making my clients happy with my photography. By the end of the day if you take care of your clients, your clients will take care of you. Another thing that inspires me is that I’m still having fun. Photography is what I love to do. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.

Is camera brand for you dependent on what you are trying to shoot, or do you prefer one brand all the time? I think the brand is subjective. I’m a Canon guy because that’s the brand I started with. Most photographers like to stick with the brand that they’ve started with because it makes financial sense.

What advice do you have for new photographers just getting started in this industry? The best advice I can give new photographers is to develop a love affair for photography. Do it for the love of it and not so much for the money. Always push yourself to get better in business, lighting, composition, SEO, photoshop, etc. Cultivate relationships with likeminded professionals and seek advice and counsel from industry leaders. Be inspired and led by the right people. Be frugal and save your money when first starting out. When I first started, I bought all used equipment until I was in a position to buy new. Your client doesn’t know the difference from a Canon 5dmk2 to a Canon 5dmk4. You have to ask yourself, “If I buy this piece of equipment, is it going to make me any more money…”

Describe your wedding photography style in 5 words or less. Creative, artistic, editorial and sexy.

What part of the wedding is your favorite to photograph? I like every aspect of photographing the wedding day. But if I had to chose one, it would be shooting the couples and showcasing their unconditional love…

When you're not shooting weddings, what do you like to do? I like to shoot professional sports and relax with my family. Playing scrabble and reading are my all-time favs!

Tell us a location that you'd love to shoot. I love shooting in San Juan, PR. It’s such a romantic city with amazing backdrops such as El Morro, Old San Juan, the rain forest and the amazing beaches!


Follow Keith Cephus Photography here!

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